Also see: https://childnervoussystem.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-european-court-of-human-rights-as.html https://childnervoussystem.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-high-court-as-arbiter-of-human-life.html
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR ) rejected the Fixsler family’s appeal to save Alta’s life.
The ECHR sent a letter to the Fixlers on Monday evening stating that it agrees with the decision of the UK court mandating the withdrawal of life support from 2-year-old Alta. The decision was made despite the fact that Israeli and US hospitals have expressed willingness to take responsibility for Alta’s care and the parents are willing to transfer her at no cost to the UK.
Last week, the US State Department granted a non-immigrant visa for Alta to be assessed and possibly treated in the US. Alta’s parents are Israeli citizens and her father is a US citizen.
Yossi Gestetner, a friend of the family, told BBC: “We’re not dealing here with something that doesn’t feel pain, we’re dealing with a human being that’s alive, that has feelings, and therefore has the potential of a better future, if given the right care.”
“Any parent would want to give the children a chance,” Gestetner asserted. “If the UK judicial system does not think that the NHS has an obligation to continue care … this should not preclude the freedom and ability for Alta to be transported to the United States or to Israel to have a second chance at life.”
The Fixslers’ lawyer, David Forster, told BBC that Alta’s religion wasn’t adequately taken into account.
“In Jewish culture, one becomes a member of the faith at conception and Alta’s religion forbids the withdrawal of life-saving care.”
“We also believe that excessive weighting has been given to ‘causing pain’ as a factor in the decision. We argue that Alta would feel no more or less pain being transported to a hospital in Israel than she would lying in a bed in Manchester – but her chance of further treatment has been denied her regardless.”
“We are considering our next steps. The legal route has ended but it is still the case that an agreement could be reached.”
The public is asked to daven for Alta bas Chaya betoch sha’ar cholei Yisrael.
Our courts are wrong. Let this little girl leaveReplyDelete
The wishes of a brain-damaged infant’s parents should be respected
Sunday August 08 2021, 12.01am BST, The Sunday Times
Two-year-old Alta Fixsler lies, unconscious, as she has done for all her life, in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. She is not aware — in fact, has no means of being aware — that across the world, political leaders are fighting for her survival. They are doing so because the British courts have supported the hospital’s application, vehemently opposed by her parents, to remove her life support (she requires a feeding tube and, for most of the time, ventilation).
Last week, after the family’s final appeal failed, the US Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, with several of his colleagues, wrote to the UK ambassador in Washington, urging that Alta — whose father has an American passport — be flown to the US, where at least one hospital has said it will provide the care Manchester no longer regards as appropriate.
Both parents also have Israeli passports. They came to the UK five years ago to be with the mother’s family: her own father was then headmaster of a school in Manchester, though he has since returned to Israel.
Two leading hospitals in Israel have also said they will look after Alta. A medical team, paid for by the family, is on standby to transfer her, initially, to the Hadassah medical centre in Jerusalem. I have personally witnessed the outstanding care this hospital gives to gravely ill children. The president of Israel, no less, Reuven Rivlin, has written to Prince Charles, urging the heir to the throne to intervene. A response is not recorded, and the British courts are, quite properly, not answerable to pressure from politicians or princes.
In this case, the courts have accepted the proposition put by the Manchester hospital, that Alta Fixsler, who experienced unavoidable catastrophic brain injury when she was born prematurely and whose brain cavity consists of little more than cerebral spinal fluid, is simply suffering. Specifically, they argue that she endures “consistent pain”.
On that basis, Mr Justice MacDonald, presiding over Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust v Fixsler, pronounced: “It is more likely than not that Alta’s point of view would be that continued life-sustaining treatment would not be acceptable to her.” In fact, no one has the faintest idea what she might think, if she were capable of such a process — and if she were, then the question of her involuntary termination would not have arisen.(continued)
(continued)Most parents, perhaps, would have accepted the hospital’s decision. But not all: three years ago there was a similar case involving Alfie Evans. His parents launched an unavailing campaign after Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital declared there was no further purpose in preserving his life. The Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome had offered to continue care, but Mr Justice Hayden declared both that Alfie’s brain “had been wiped out ... it is almost entirely water” and that to move him to Italy would cause him further suffering. I wrote at the time: “Both propositions could not simultaneously be true.”ReplyDelete
In this case, too, there is a religious element: Alta’s parents are devout Hasidic Jews. In a statement to the court, they said: “In our faith, it is strictly forbidden to actively shorten a life. The only circumstances under which this might be permissible is where someone is in constant suffering and pain, but we do not believe that these circumstances apply to Alta.”
They have supplied pictures of Alta with her elder brother, in which the girl does not seem to be displaying any signs of pain, or even discomfort. She appears entirely quiescent. But one of her clinicians, “Doctor A”, told the court: “It is not our clinical opinion that she is not suffering when she appears peaceful and settled, it simply means that the medication is controlling some of the more distressing symptoms that she experiences and she is unable to communicate with us how much suffering that she is enduring.”
These “distressing symptoms”, as Doctor A described them, are spasms, essentially spinal reflexes, though not accompanied by any cries or other sign that the child is conscious of them. Yet the argument that Alta is “suffering” was the clincher for the judge — as it would be, since the Manchester NHS trust was making its application under the 1989 Children Act, which states that children’s welfare should be the paramount concern of the courts. This is most commonly applied in cases involving bitter divorces, or when social workers request emergency removal of children from abusive homes. A case such as this one, involving a completely harmonious family deeply devoted to their child, would not have been envisaged in 1989.
But in this case, too, however strange it might seem, the views of the child’s parents are irrelevant. Judge MacDonald was explicit: “There is no requirement for the court to evaluate the reasonableness of the parents’ views before it embarks upon deciding what, objectively, is in the child’s best interests.” (continued)
(continued) Many would doubtless see Alta’s parents as opposing the wisdom of the judges, and highly qualified NHS doctors, with nothing more than emotion and rabbinical dogma. But this is not the view of Dr Rajesh Munglani, a friend of mine who also happens to be the country’s leading medical authority in the field of pain (consultant in pain medicine at the Royal Papworth Hospital and formerly director of the pain relief service at Addenbrooke’s Hospital). I sent Dr Munglani all the court papers and he responded: “The judgment is fundamentally flawed, though through no fault of the judge”.ReplyDelete
His first point was that “suffering” is a higher cognitive function, in which Alta is entirely deficient. His second point was that, given her permanent lack of consciousness, and absence of (to use the colloquial term) grey matter, “to say she probably experiences pain is simply wrong. I have patients with total spinal injury who have spasms, but no pain, because the link between the nerves and the brain is lost. People have spinal spasms when under anaesthetic, to the irritation of surgeons, but they are not in pain. This is almost certainly true also of Alta Fixsler.”
Thus the evidence of one of the clinicians, which the court accepted, that Alta’s “suffering” would be increased by moving her to Israel, is also flawed. As for the evidence of another clinician, again accepted by the judge, that if Alta were transported to the Hadassah medical centre there would be “a significant risk of an adverse event, including unpredictable deterioration or death”, this is not so much flawed as farcical: a doctor advocating the withdrawal of all life-sustaining treatment warns that ignoring their advice might endanger the health of the patient.
Let Alta Fixsler go, to end her life with her extended family, rather than at a time of the British state’s choosing, in a windowless room in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Alta Fixsler is a wonderful, cute, two-year old baby. She was born in December 2018. She is currently struggling to live in the British Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on life support.ReplyDelete
Struggling against formidable natural threats to her life, on July 9 she was sentenced to death by the British Court of Appeal, for the “crime” of being a vulnerable baby valiantly struggling with brain damage. Alta could live for years, but the pleas of her parents’ and community to England — joined by strong bipartisan support from US Senators and the U.S. State Department for saving Alta — are falling on deaf ears in the U.K.
Her doctors claim that Alta has “no conscious awareness,” as if that’s a justification for pulling the plug. Outrageously, the British Court system has backed the medical experts’ decision to actively allow Alta to die. Thus, those entrusted with ensuring justice are enabling its polar opposite.
This sounds a lot like the well-known travesties of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard. So in some ways it isn’t surprising to see this, but I imagine there are differences?
Yes, primarily because Alta is the daughter of a U.S. citizen. That provides us a formidable strategic advantage, which must be leveraged to highlight the sheer evil here. Doing so will help all children, U.S. citizens and otherwise.
Furthermore, Alta already has a Visa to come here to the U.S. A NJ hospital is already prepared to accept Alta for medical treatment. On top of that, an international medical transport team has offered to take her to the U.S., at no expense whatsoever to the British. The only thing that’s holding her back is her medical team and British courts.
Can you say more about why US American participation so important here?
We have influence other countries lack. The United States is still a global superpower, whose citizens the British cannot abuse with impunity. If enough American elected officials speak out unequivocally, they will be unable to easily ignore their demands to protect children of U.S. citizens.
Bipartisan work by U.S. Senators has already begun, including some Senators who are on the morally wrong side of life issues the majority of the time. In addition, ten Republican senators have also written to President Biden saying: “We are profoundly troubled that the child of an American citizen is being treated this way, in a country with whom we have a deep alliance and special relationship,” they wrote. “We urge you to advocate to Prime Minister Johnson on behalf of the Fixsler family.”(continued)
(continued) But that’s obviously not been enough. We are told that nothing can be done about the forthcoming murder by omission perpetrated under aegis of the “independent” judiciary. Quoted in the NY Post, a representative of the British NY Consulate General claimed that, “Under UK law, the decision about Alta’s welfare is one for the independent judiciary and not the British Government. The courts are bound by law to make a decision on the basis of what is in Alta’s best interests.”ReplyDelete
We cannot let them hide behind the judiciary. We need more US pressure brought to bear.
What’s the motivation here, in your view?
It’s the euthanasia agenda which has been metastasizing in various countries lately. It’s not even greed–as evil as that would be–it’s creed. It is culture. The culture of death, incremental and barely masked.
Those who rebel against God have a knack of playing God — becoming an imposter of Him, as it were — in deciding whose life is worth living and whose life is worth ending. Those who deny God ultimately sink to the level of denying the dignity of humanity in the most lethal ways, as anyone marginally familiar with world history already knows.
There is an expansive UK website, for instance, addressing children at risk of dying. Much of it is devoted to helping them die, replete with euphemistic whitewash of the moral abyss into which they are driving their culture. Note well that the expression “short life” was used by the appeals judge in referring to Alta. The hospital’s plan for Alta is quite apparently standard operating procedure. It’s horrible.
Nevertheless, there is hope. Americans united can stop this evil by unmasking it, unapologetically and unrelentingly.
What specifically can we do to help save Alta?
Firstly, you can call your U.S. Senator and Congressman, urging them to unapologetically and publicly demand that England free Alta, and declare to England that if anything happens to Alta, the United States will consider that an act of aggression against America and its children.
Secondly, please consider sharing your thoughts with family, friends, and clergy. Also write your bishops. Ask them to contact Pope Francis as well–he was a true champion for Alfie Evans, and we need him again here for Alta. And it isn’t just about her; who knows how many more innocent children are and will be at risk of being terminated by British hospitals? Decisive action on Alta could help save many more lives.
But one life is enough. As the Rabbis of the Talmud have stated: Saving just one life is tantamount to “saving the entire world.”
There’s something grimly familiar about the case of little Alta Fixsler, the brain damaged toddler whose parents are contesting the decision of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital to withdraw her life support treatment. She hasn’t eaten or spoken since she was born, tragically prematurely, a misfortune that left her with permanent brain damage. The hospital wishes to turn off her support but her parents want her to be transferred to a hospital in the United States – her father has an American passport – or to Israel – her parents are Israeli citizens, as is she – where the leading paediatric hospital has volunteered to take her.ReplyDelete
The hospital trust has been supported by the courts where Mr Justice MacDonald was explicit that:
'There is no requirement for the court to evaluate the reasonableness of the parents’ views before it embarks upon deciding what, objectively, is in the child’s best interests.'
The parents took the case to the European court, which refused to intervene. So now it’s down to the hospital to decide whether a brain damaged little girl may go abroad to a hospital where she will at least have the chance of longer life, and certainly would die within her own community.
Israeli and US politicians have lobbied the hospital on the child’s behalf; the Foreign Office sniffily says that it will not entertain outside pressure on this matter. Fine; though I’d be a bit troubled myself about obliging the citizen of another country, even a child born here, to die on our terms. But how about simple humanitarianism?(continued)
(continued)We’ve been here before, that’s why it seems familiar: with Alfie Evans, the brain-damaged boy whose parents fought hard to give him a last chance of life by taking him to a hospital in Italy, the Bambino Gesu, which had offered to treat him. Their efforts were seen off by the courts on the basis. I wrote at the time about the hideous illogic of the argument; he couldn’t be transported to Italy because during the journey he would be 'more vulnerable', so he was forced to remain in Britain where the only option was for him to die.ReplyDelete
We also, of course, had the case of Charlie Gard, a boy with a rare mitochondrial disorder whose parents wanted to give him the chance of an offbeat therapy available in New York; Great Ormond Street Hospital insisted that the boy’s condition was such that he should not travel; the upshot was that the courts agreed that he had to remain here to die.
Alta’s case is very similar, with the difference that Alta’s parents are Hasidic Jews and they argue that the courts are giving insufficient weight to their religious views that it is impermissible to end a life, unless the life involves great suffering, and to their rights as parents. In this case since the child cannot breathe unaided, she will die relatively quickly if the support is withdrawn.
(continued)Since the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene, there are no further legal avenues the parents can explore. Her parents said: 'We are heartbroken by this decision about our beautiful daughter, and we are exploring all available avenues to save her precious life.'ReplyDelete
As with Alfie Evans, the chances of the little girl recovering are remote, but in a hospital in the US or Israel she may well live longer. Yet the courts are refusing to countenance the move. But there is no certainty whatever that she would feel any discomfort because she may not have the neurological capacity to feel pain.
What, in these circumstances, has the child to lose? She may live longer in Israel or the US; her parents want her to have whatever chance of life she can. Why should the British courts stop them? The medics here maintain she would undergo suffering if she travels, yet they provide insufficient proof – at least in the written judgement – that she would.
In this case, the pundits have not taken up arms against the parents and their supporters, whereas with Alfie Evans, some journalists had a particular animus against Alfie’s army because they seemed emotional and hostile to hospital staff. These people also appeared to especially dislike the Christian legal aid organisation which supported the parents. Alta is Jewish and her parents have the support of Jewish hospitals and American and Israeli politicians; they are unlikely to be treated quite so contemptuously.
But I do question why religious views must come into the matter. Why is it not sufficient that a child’s parents wish her to have as much chance of life as possible, even if the chances of a cure are vanishingly small? Why must they be motivated by a specifically religious impulse? I happen to be strongly opposed to the withdrawal of feeding and hydration tubes from patients who rely on them for life, because I don’t think food and drink count as medical treatment (artificially maintained breathing is another question) but I don’t think of this as a religious, so much as a moral position which any unbeliever might share.
In this case the parents’ assertion of their right to prolong her life should not have had to include their religious beliefs. Religion (Christian Science excepted) doesn’t in these cases entail a peculiar position on medical ethics; just the normal impulse to do the best for a child. Making a case on the basis of the parents’ religion leaves at a disadvantage other parents arguing for their child without the benefit of religion. I’d say this case stands on the basis of natural justice.
In fact, I think Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, is quite amenable to these arguments. He will be sensitive to the fact that the child’s parents are Israeli citizens, even if she was born here; he will be aware of the fact that a global Jewish community supports the parents. But beyond that, he will recognise that Alta’s parents love her and have her best interests at heart. The medical experts in Israel are no less expert than those in Manchester; if they feel they can help her, it’s not for British paediatricians to insist she dies on their terms.(continued)
(continued)In all these cases – Alta, Alfie, Charlie – the hospital trusts are going beyond their remit and the judges beyond the terms of the Children Act 1989 under which they are obliged to act in the best interests of the child. If little Alta only has the option of dying sooner in Manchester rather than later in Israel or America, then it baffles me that a judge can consider that he is acting in her best interests to keep her here. If she is going to a reputable hospital – it is in fact outstanding – then let the child be taken abroad.ReplyDelete
But perhaps, now that its authority has been upheld, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust can afford to be magnanimous. They can, without loss of dignity, without seeming to capitulate to outside pressure, after consultation with their peers in Israel, let the child go. Medical and legal authoritarianism has its limits.
European Court of Human Rights Rules that Life Support can be Removed from UK 2-Year-OldReplyDelete
Last week, the European Court of Human Rights declined to intervene to save the life of a child whose life support is in jeopardy. Despite the wishes of two-year-old Alta Fixler's parents, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital refuses to transfer her to another hospital.
The court's decision means that the UK hospital could choose to remove Fixler's life support very soon.
Fixler's parents are Hasidic Jews who strongly object to the hospital's decision because of their beliefs. They believe in the sanctity of human life, and they hope that the hospital will change its mind and allow them to transfer their daughter to one of several facilities that have expressed willingness to provide treatment for their daughter.
Both parents have Israeli citizenship, and Fixler's father has US citizenship as well. Because of this, hospitals and politicians from both countries have reached out to save Alta's life. The US government has approved a non-immigrant visa that would allow Fixler to travel to the US for treatment